by U.S. Polo Correspondent Alex Webbe

The final preliminary rounds of play took place Thursday afternoon in the 2013 Maserati US Open Championship at the International Polo club in Wellington, Florida, with eight teams moving forward to participate in the tournament quarterfinals. Zacara scored the first win of the day in a 9-7 victory over Piaget (0-3). Mike Azzaro scored the first goal of the game with a fast and well-placed shot that seemed to set the pace for the game, but such was not the case. With both teams settling into defensive modes, it was the last score of the chukker for a humble 1-0 Zacara lead.

The two teams exchanged goals in the second, with Nacho Novillo Astrada (flow in just the day before to replace Piaget’s injured 10-goaler, Sapo Caset) scoring consecutive goals in the second. Nacho Novillo Astrada tied it up at 1-1 just 90 seconds into the chukker, and gave Piaget its first lead of the game, 2-1, on his second goal from the field at the 2:10 mark. Facundo Pieres converted a 60-yard penalty shot for a tying goal, 2-2, goal with 1:31 left in the chukker. Azzaro’s second goal of the game came with just 34 seconds remaining in the period for a 3-2 Zacara edge.

Three and-one-half minutes into the third chukker, Azzaro scored this third goal of the game, 4-2. Piaget 10-goaler Miguel Novillo Astrada missed a 30-yard penalty shot when the ball hit the goalpost. Pieres made it 5-2 on a penalty shot of his own. A goal from the field from Piaget’s Nacho Badiola cut the Zacara lead to two goals, 5-3 with just over a minute in the period. Magoo Laprida scored the final goal of the period, giving Zacara a 6-3 advantage.

The superiority of the Zacara team on the field was evident to all in attendance, and since they had already qualified for the quarterfinals, the rest of the game was played more for exercise than outcome. Miguel Novillo Astrada scored the only goal of the fourth chukker, cutting into the Zacara lead. The period ended with Piaget trailing by two goals, 6-4. Zacara pressed back just enough in the fifth to remind Piaget who was in charge. A goal from the field from Azzaro was followed by a 60-yard penalty conversion (Safety). Piaget was unable to score, and Zacara stretched the lead to four goals, 8-4.

Zacara team captain Lyndon Lea scored in the opening minute of the sixth chukker, giving Zacara a five goals lead, 9-4. Piaget rallied the team and scored three consecutive goals, but could get no closer, falling to Zacara, 9-7. Azzaro led Zacara in scoring with four goals. Pieres added three goals to the Zacara total with teammates Lea and Laprida scoring single goals in the win. Miguel Novillo Astrada was credited with three goals for Piaget. Badiola and Nacho Novillo Astrada scored two goals apiece in the loss.

FARAWAY 8, LECHUZA 7
The smart money would probably have been on Lechuza in the 2pm contest. Lechuza had already registered wins over Piaget and Orchard Hill, but they would be taking the field without 10-goaler Juan Martin Nero (small cut inside of the leg that required a couple of stitches). On the strength of a 2-0 record, Lechuza had already secured a spot in the tournament quarterfinals, but a winless Faraway (0-2) team had other ideas.

There was no give in the Faraway defense in the opening chukker and very few openings in Lechuza’s either. It was Nic Roldan who finally scored the only goal of the first chukker with 46 seconds left in regulation time for the early 1-0 lead. Lechuza rallied in the second frame with single goals from Mariano Gonzalez (substituting for the injured Nero) and Polito Pieres. There was no effective offense by Faraway as Lechuza established a 2-1 advantage after two chukkers of play. Roldan tied it up at 2-2 with a goal from the field in the third period, but with time running out, Lechuza team captain, Victor Vargas received a well-placed pass from teammate Francisco Elizalde and scored the goal that gave his team a 3-2 halftime edge.

Vargas added to the Lechuza lead in the opening minute of the fourth period, 4-2, but Faraway responded. A goal from Santiago Chavanne cut the lead to a single goal, 4-3. Elizalde closed out the chukker with a goal from the field with just 47 seconds on the clock. Lechuza continued to lead, 5-3. Elizalde and Gonzalez scored the opening goals of the fifth chukker for a four goal lead, 7-3. Roldan cut the lead back to three goals, 7-4, on a penalty shot, with one chukker left to play.

After leading throughout most of the game, Lechuza found themselves unable to score in the final minutes of the game. Chavanne opened the period with an 80-yard shot that carried through the Lechuza goalposts, and the sixth chukker belonged to Faraway. Three consecutive goals from American 8-goaler, Nic Roldan (the final goal coming on a 40-yard penalty shot) carried the day and gave Faraway its first Maserati U. S. Open victory, 8-7. Roldan led the Faraway charge with six goals (two on penalty shots). Chavanne added two goals for the win. Elizalde scored three times for Lechuza. Vargas and Pieres scored two goals each.

ORCHARD HILL 16, ALEGRIA 6
Looking nothing like the team that captured this year’s C. V. Whitney Cup championship, Alegria fell behind early and never recovered as Orchard Hill rolled over Alegria as if the players weren’t there. After a 1-1 first chukker that had Matias MacDonough score the opening goal of the game for Orchard Hill, and Mariano Aguerre respond with a goal for Faraway, Orchard Hill began to take control of the game.

Ten-goaler Pablo Macdonough scored to give Orchard Hill a 2-1 lead in the opening minutes of the second. Facundo Oregon answered with a penalty goal, and a 2-2 tie. Little did the Alegria team know, but it would be as close as they would come for the balance of the game. Brazilian 8-goaler Rodrigo Andrade scored his first goal of the game, 3-2, followed by a goal from Matias Macdonough, 4-2. Hilario Ulloa scored the final goal of the chukker. Orchard Hill continued to lead, 4-3 as the second chukker ended.

Matias MacDonough and Julian Mannix exchanged goals to open the third period, 5-4, but Orchard Hill closed it out. A penalty goal from Matias MacDonough and a goal from brother Pablo MacDonough ended the first half with Orchard Hill cruising to a7-4 halftime lead. A goal from Mariano Aguerre in the first 14 seconds of the fourth chukker cut the lead to a pair of goals, 7-5, when Matias MacDonough caught fire. A goal from the field was sandwiched between two penalty goals, as Orchard Hill raced out to a commanding 10-5 advantage. A 60-yard penalty shot from Matias MacDonough in the fifth was answered by a beautifully executed cut shot by Mannix. With one chukker left to play, Orchard Hill was on top, 11-6.

An excited Orchard Hill foursome returned to the field in the second half of a game that would be highlighted by five consecutive goals. Matias MacDonough scored four of the five goals and Andrade scored the other. At the end of regulation time, Steve Van Andel and his Orchard Hill teammates scored an impressive 16-6 win over Alegria.
Matias MacDonough led all scoring on the day with an impressive 12 goals. Andrade and Pablo MacDonough each scored twice in the 16-6 victory. Aguerre and Mannix scored two goals apiece for Alegria. Ulloa and Obregon each added a goal.

Wins by Zacara (3-0), Faraway (1-2) and Orchard Hill (1-2) helped decide the pairings for the quarterfinals, but not without the aid of a shootout that eliminated a final team from the competition. The opening game of the day saw Zacara run up a 6-3 halftime score over Piaget before coasting to the 9-7 win. The victory gave Zacara a perfect 3-0 record and a first place finish in a Brackets II/III. Lechuza (2-1) and Alegria (2-1) were tied, with a coin toss giving second place to Lechuza and Alegria taking third place.

Faraway and Orchard Hill were tied for fourth place in their bracket with 1-2 records, resulting in a one-man shoot-out. Pablo MacDonough was representing Orchard Hill while Nic Roldan carried the colors for Faraway. Each player converted the 40-yard shots, but after Pablo MacDonough scored on the 60-yard shot, Roldan’s effort was wide to the right and Orchard Hill advanced.

Sunday’s pairings in the quarterfinals of the 2013 Maserati US Open will feature two morning matches that will have Audi facing Zacara and ERG meeting Alegria. A noon contest will see Coca-Cola battling Lechuza while Valiente will entertain Orchard Hill on the club’s stadium field.


The Teams:
Alegria (+26)
Julian Mannix (+2)
Hilario Ulloa (+9)
Mariano Aguerre (+9)
Facundo Obregon (+6)

Audi (+26)
Marc Ganzi (+1)
Nico Pieres (+8)
Gonzalito Pieres (+10)
Jeff Hall (+7)

Coca-Cola (+26)
Gillian Johnston (+1)
Sugar Erskine (+7)
Julio Arellano (+9)
Sebastian Merlos (+9)

ERG (+26)
Scott Wood (0) / Wesley Bryan
Tincho Merlos (+9)
Eduardo Novillo Astrada (+9)
Paco de Navaez (+8)

Faraway Polo (+26 / +25)
Bo / Hutton Goodman (+1 / 0)
Santiago Chavanne (+9)
Nic Roldan (+8)
Matias Magrini (+8)

Lechuza Caracas (+26)
Victor Vargas (+1)
Polito Pieres (+8)
Juan Martin Nero (+10) / Mariano Gonzalez
Francisco Elizalde (+7)

Orchard Hill (+26)
Steve van Andel (0)
Rodrigo Andrade (+8)
Pablo MacDonough (+10)
Matias MacDonough (+8)

Piaget (+26)
Melissa Ganzi (0) / Matias Sosa
Nacho Badiola (+6)
Sapo Caset (+10) / Lucas Lalor and Juan Bollini / Nacho Novillo Astrada (+10)
Miguel Novillo Astrada (+10)

Valiente (+26)
Bob Jornayvaz (0)
Pelon Stirling (+10)
Adolfo Cambiaso (+10)
Santi Torres (+6)

Zacara (+26)
Facundo Pieres (+10)
Lyndon Lea (+1)
Magoo Laprida (+8)
Mike Azzaro (+7)

Zorzal (+26)
Fred Mannix (+6)
Jason Crowder (+6)
Marianito Obregon (+7)
Mariano Gonzalez (+7)